Appellate Court Divergence on First SLAPP Prong Drove Reversal of SLAPP Fee Award.
SLAPP fee awards against defendants/cross-defendants are allowable, but not mandatory as against losing plaintiffs--losing defendants’ efforts must be found to be frivolous in nature, a much higher burden of proof. In the next case, the trial court denied cross-defendants’ SLAPP motion, later determining that they should pay cross-defendants $10,000 in fees for the SLAPP motion found to be frivolous.
Charles Green Bush, artist. c1890. Library of Congress.
On review, the fee award was reversed in Adcock v. Goldstein, Case No. B233480 (2d Dist., Div. 4 Apr. 20, 2012) (unpublished).
The problem in this one was there was conflicting intermediate appellate authority relating to the proper interpretation of the SLAPP first prong under the facts of this case. Given this divergence in opinion, it followed that a reasonable attorney could bring a SLAPP motion on behalf of cross-defendants based on the conflicting decisional law--something which undermined a frivolousness determination.